Morning Chat with Bear

“What, Bear? No, I don’t know why those aspen trees are yellow or there are yellow leaves on the ground under those cottonwoods. Don’t get your hopes up. It will come, but not any time soon. Today is going to be the hottest day of the summer. Yeah, I know Teddy was sick last night. I was with him the whole time. Ok, ok, you’re right. Not the whole time. There was that time you guys were outside together. I’m sorry, but I AM a little afraid of bats, anyway, I don’t want them in the house. Yeah, I think a doggy door would be good. I’m working on that one. What? We might get rain tomorrow? I don’t know. You DO know? You don’t know, Bear. You’re going to what? Oh, I think that’s a good idea before it gets hot again. Look out!!! You’re about to get ambushed!

Cross Country Ski Trail of My Dreams

Today we went up to Dick Boyce Cross Country Ski Area which is pretty close to my house — maybe 15 miles on paved and good gravel roads. I learned how to get there when, as I tell Bear, the good times return. The trail is totally within my range of abilities and is two miles RT. I had good cell service all the way along it. That matters since sometimes I’ll probably go alone.

We talked briefly about “What’s your next writing project?” and I said I had no idea.

One of my friends said, “Write about three ladies who go hiking together.”
I said I couldn’t because right now I’m in the middle of that story and it’s a very sweet one.

We’d had a kind of deep and earnest talk earlier about maybe we shouldn’t bitch about getting old(er). I said I don’t really bitch, and that sometimes remembering I’m 67 going on 68 helps me remember that I’m not 30, that I used my body hard, that stuff happened to it, and I have to figure out where I am now because I can’t go back even to what I was when I was fifty. I said I sometimes feel like a failure until I remember I’m nearly 70. In earlier days, before my hip surgery, when we took off together, many things were difficult for me, and my friends were there to witness and help. I told them today I can do anything now, but I have a problem with apprehension; I’m a little afraid.

Elizabeth said that’s natural and to be expected.

Karen says she feels like herself until she looks in the mirror. I laughed because the other day I looked in the mirror and said, “Well, I could be a lot uglier.”

I guess that’s kind of an affirmation.

Deep inside, for me, what matters is continuing to try to find wonderful things to do. I think I share that with my friends. Each of us found a treasure, too. 🙂

Nouns, Verbs, Adjectives

Elaborate/elaborate. A friend (non-native but close to native speaker) and I have been discussing that nasty “ate” ending. When’s it a verb? When’s it an adjective? When’s it a noun?

It’s more or less this: “When a word containing an -ate suffix is a noun or an adjective, the vowel sound of the suffix is unstressed and is pronounced with a short i /ɪ/

Lots of people complain about English being complicated, but compared to a lot of other languages I’ve studied, it’s pretty simple. The thing is, no language we study is ever as “easy” as the one we already know.


I’m grateful for everything right now.

I didn’t plan for my retirement. It just happened. I knew I’d gotten a good deal at San Diego State and was going to have my job pay into a pension (I didn’t know what a pension was, really) after I’d had steady employment with them for two years. All that mattered to me at that moment was that I was also going to get great health benefits. I didn’t know how long I’d work there (13 years and change) or that it would be JUST ENOUGH, when added to my Social Security, for me to live in a small town in Colorado. I didn’t even know I wanted to live in a small town in Colorado. I had NO idea. I didn’t think about the future. There was too much unknown for me to go beyond the present moment, itself rife with unknowns.

Today is the fifth anniversary of teaching my last class. Tomorrow, my friends who, in this great accident of fate, happen to live within 100 yards of me, and were strangers when I arrived, and I are going up to the place in the mountains that is frequently groomed for cross country skiing in winter. If I made only one trip to the mountains this summer, I would want it to be THAT trip.

I had no idea when I walked of that miserable classroom that I would end up here with a life like this one.

And Bella — Monday on our trip up to Beaver Creek Reservoir Bella tackled her first narrow, windy, gravel mountain road. I was very grateful for the debt I have on that car. 🙂

Gratitude is immense. It’s the power that allows us to see the good in the current moment of our lives. According to long trails of sponsored Facebook posts it also affects the way our brain works. I haven’t read those articles, but I know that, in my case, when I stopped wishing, hoping and wanting and began thanking I became a much happier person.

From the Lagunas to the Rockies

I am at another cross-roads in life. I’m approaching it as I have never approached one before, kind of with a shrug and a sigh and a “whatever.” The China book was a project of a type I’d never undertaken before. That was a serious thing — a lot more serious than I’d expected when I set out reading through all those nostalgic blog posts.

I hiked up that sharp hill yesterday, thought of all the hours on the bike-to-nowhere and the fact that the interval has taught me that it’s OK to go slow. I don’t have to run up the hill. I can just go up the hill. At the bottom (beginning and end) is a set of railroad tie steps. No short-legged person could do those easily but as I ascended, I thought that one reason I once ran up steps like that was because the propulsion of running makes steps like that a little easier. Another challenge was stepping over fallen trees. The first few Lois helped me then I figured out I could do it myself with help from my trekking pole.

I thought of all the elderly hikers I used to run into (not literally) in the Laguna Mountains out in California. I always felt a combination of pity and respect for them. THEY couldn’t do what I was doing (running) but they WERE there and clearly enjoying it. There were moments on my hike yesterday when I just savored the silence, standing there, listening to nothing.

The Biggest Tree (Photo Lois Maxwell)

These are lessons from the past several years of pain and disability. I’ve changed. The lessons I’ve learned are good ones, but they didn’t belong to any of my earlier “selves.” I’m the elderly hiker now.

Beautiful Day

Today Lois, Mark and I went up into the mountains to see the biggest tree in the Rio Grande National Forest. It’s a Douglas fir and it must be hundreds of years old. The hike wasn’t long but it was all up hill, some pretty much straight up hill. We crossed a little stream. I can’t say it was a major hike or anything but it is the first hike like that I have taken in a very long time. I went up and down that hill with no problem and no pain.

That’s major.

Lois’ son Mark and me with the big tree

Today is my dad’s birthday. Were he alive, he would be 94 today. After our hike we went down the hill (naturally because what goes up must go down and Bella was there) to the reservoir (Beaver Creek Reservoir) we saw a family with a son in a motorized wheelchair. They were moving down to another spot, shadier, where the fishing was better. To do this, they had to move their little boy. The boy tried to navigate the trail on his own, but when he was unable to, his dad fixed a rope to the wheel chair, made a loop and tied it around his waist, and pulled his son to the new fishing spot. The man was a draft animal; the chair and boy were the wagon.

It was incredibly beautiful. I stood and stared. I really didn’t care if it bothered them. It’s not every day you get to witness such an act of pure love.


Can’t write much about this topic of marbles. You see, I’ve lost mine. 🙂

My mom had a huge collection of marbles, I mean real, legit marbles, that she’d confiscated from her students during her years as a teacher. The best one was a shooter, an actual real and truly “Aggie” — made from an agate. There were all kinds and they were really beautiful — except the “steelies” which were, uh, steel, and broke other kid’s marbles. “We didn’t allow those on our playground,” she said which accounted for a comparatively large number of them in the bag. I still have the deerskin marble bag, but she never let us play with those marbles. She gave me the bag for my jacks and put the marbles in a jar on a high shelf. Strange to me thinking of it now, but I think they were her souvenir of a time in her life and maybe each little marble represented a kid in one of her classes, to her. I don’t know. I don’t know if kids even play marbles any more — they weren’t very popular when I was a little kid.

There was a gender break — girls played Jacks; boys played marbles. Why? What was that about? All of life’s mysteries and some of them are deeply trivial.

I have ONE marble — an orange cat’s eye I found in my garden when I turned over the dirt when I moved in.

In other political news (what?) and lost marbles, anyone else interested in setting up a completely new but secret government and slowly siphoning power away from DC and turning THAT into a reality show without any of them knowing? Message me if you are.

Teddy Report and Quotidian Update 91.23.vii

All the typing I’ve been doing over the past few months working on the China book combined with walking two semi-intractable dogs, has inflamed my shoulder joint. Don’t worry, I’m not typing in my usual place. Apparently my chair is too low for the table and my arms have been in a position that would (and did) eventually cause irritation to my shoulder joint — bursitis, it seems.

It’s really painful and has interrupted my sleep and fucked with my mood. I devised a clever ice pack made of a baggy with ice in it wrapped in a bandana and tied around my shoulder that’s worked well. But yesterday I went a step farther and got a real ice pack that wraps around my body with stuff you freeze. It’s pretty hard to keep the bandana in place.

It all started from teaching, from years of reaching to write on the board. For the past 15 years it’s come and gone — all the screwing (ha ha) I did building furniture when I moved here made it flare up. Painting ceilings before I moved made it flare up.

I got a leash for Bear that I can wear around my waist — I see potential problems, but it has handles, too. If it’s good it will be great as it is a little fanny pack (there goes my entire coolness factor right down the drain) so if I see kids selling lemonade I might have a quarter to buy some.

Teddy has learned to fetch and recognizes the ball we use for fetch from his other toys if I put them all in a pile. He brings me the right one. I’m thinking of hiring a tutor to help him prep for the SATs.

So if my posts for the next nonce are brief and cranky, that’s why.


The word “wind” makes me laugh because it blows most of the time here. All the trees list to the northeast FOREVER because of the the wind that comes down from the San Juans. That little poem about “who has seen the wind?” isn’t strictly true. During early spring plowing here you can see it, revealed by the dust.

I’ve written about the wind a LOT. Looking to see what, I looked for my posts and I can’t do better this morning than I’ve done already.

Wind, December 2018

River, Wind, Frogs and Birds

Wild, Windy Day (Photos ❤ )